Immunodeficiency [1/4] – Journalism

This series of four articles was written as an exercise in developing a world through the use of creative writing.  In a team of three, I was project/creative lead, and responsible for writing the lore of our fictive world.

 

Terror Plot Revealed to be Act of God?

THE current health epidemic in Canada may be more closely linked to an issue in the natural evolution of the human race, than a terrorist act, according to an official report released by the World Medical Association earlier today.  With over one quarter of Calgary’s citizens now deceased or hospitalised with various seemingly un-related illnesses, the World Medical Association has released its first public statement regarding the cause of the catastrophe – and it appears we may have more to fear from our house-hold cleaning products than the weapons of terrorist organisations.

While the speculations of local doctors and scientists lead to rumours of an airborne mutation of the Human immunodeficiency virus – better known as HIV – as a terrorist attack, the World Medical Association report defines clear differences in the condition of Calgary’s population and the symptoms of one suffering from AIDS.  Having confirmed that these patients are indeed suffering from an immune system deficiency, the WMA are sceptical that this crisis has been engineered at the hands of a terrorist organisation.

As detailed in the globally distributed report, a person afflicted with any secondary immunodeficiency – that is an immune system deficiency acquired after birth – would have insufficient amounts of certain cells that are an integral part of the human body’s immune system, thus leaving it unable to form a proper defence against threats such as bacterial and viral infections.  The report then clarifies that unlike sufferers of secondary immuno-deficiencies, victims of the Calgary epidemic have all the elements of their immune-system physically intact, however, for reasons unknown, their immune-systems are struggling to fight off the most basic of illnesses.

The condition, named in this report as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), is confirmed to be a non-contagious threat, and this is supported by the reports of new SCID cases beginning to slow since reaching the 7 month anniversary of the first recognised case of this condition.  However, with SCID being non-contagious, the question of how nearly 250,000 people could simultaneously fall victim to such a catastrophic condition, becomes a critically vital question to understanding this new issue to plague human-kind.

Several theories were presented in the report, but perhaps the most convincing was the evolution of the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’ originally presented by David P. Strachan.

The Hygiene Hypothesis presents the idea that children brought up in a cleaner environment will be more susceptible to allergic diseases than those that aren’t – a theory originally supported by the statistics that immunological and autoimmune diseases are far less common in citizens of developing countries than in citizens of the western, industrialised world.  The WMA report expanded on this theory, proposing that decades of living in such a clean environment made the human immune system redundant and by the process of evolution, the immune system no longer functioned at the level of a normal person.  This being the case, it comes as no surprise then a condition such as this should manifest in Calgary, “The Cleanest City in the World” as selected in 2007 by the Forbes magazine.  However, the drawback with this theory is that, without an accelerant, an evolutionary alteration such as this should take centuries rather than decades.  The lack of radio-activity in Calgary removes the likelihood of an accelerant that could affect evolution in this way, and thus the origins of the epidemic remain a mystery.

 

Conversely, the report ended on a more positive note – the WMA report stating that for SCID to appear anywhere else in the world at this time is “extremely unlikely”.

 

JOSEPH MCMANUS

Independent Journalist

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